Senior Sports Editor
TINO KADEWERE broke his France Ligue 1 duck while Warriors skipper, Knowledge Musona, scored his second goal of the season on a productive Sunday for Zimbabwe international footballers yesterday.
Their Warriors teammate, Khama Billiat, was among those who provided the assists as Kaizer Chiefs started life under new coach Gavin Hunt, with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Maritzburg United in an MTN 8 quarter-final.
Billiat had a chance to score for the Amakhosi in the closing stages of the match, a trademark fine piece of control giving him the space to charge towards goal but the goalkeeper, who had come out to narrow his angle, managed to touch the ball out for a corner.
Chiefs’ coach, Hunt, has made it his priority to get the best out of Billiat after the Zimbabwean cut a dejected figure as he struggled for both form and love under the tutelage of German coach, Ernst Middendorp, who appeared desperate to frustrate him.
The German was sacked, after Chiefs blew a 13-point advantage, to surrender the title to a relentless Mamelodi Sundowns.
“I have got huge expectations. I know him from Zimbabwe to Ajax (Cape Town),’’ Hunt told a pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“Yes, he is older but he should be a little bit more experienced now, he’s a bit wiser.
“I think, the most important thing I’ve got to do, or we have got to do, is start to get him playing to his strengths, where we can get the best out of him, and that’s all I’m trying to do.
“Whatever he needs, support, extra word, if he’s willing, and I think he is willing, he’s got huge potential still. I still see him as a young boy from when he came from Zimbabwe.
“I don’t want to know what’s gone on here before, it’s got nothing to do with me…he’s certainly a double figures goal scorer in the league and that’s got to be the first aim, if he does his part, the rest can do our part and then we’re successful.’’
It’s the kind of respect, and adoration, which someone like Billiat loves, for him to really thrive, and while he didn’t score yesterday, it’s difficult to bet against him finding the goals soon under Hunt’s guidance.
His Warriors teammates, Kadewere and Musona, were all smiles yesterday as they found the target for their French and Belgian clubs.
And, that should delight their national team coach, Zdravko Logarusic, as he plots a way to deal with the Desert Foxes of Algeria in an AFCON qualifier next month.
Kadewere scored his first league goal for Olympique Lyon to help his side beat Strasbourg 3-2 away from home.
The Zimbabwean hitman fired his team into the lead, in the 12th minute, before a double by Cameroonian international forward, Karl Toko Ekambi, inside the first half, appeared to have given them full control of the game.
Dutch skipper, Memphis Depay, who remains on the radar of Spanish giants, Barcelona, provided all the three assists.
However, the home side fought back to provide a nervy finish to the match but Lyon held on for maximum points for only their second win of the season.
They have drawn four and lost one of their league matches.
“I’m very happy with the goal but also for the team,’’ Kadewere told LyonTV. “We needed a victory. We had a good match, we worked together.
“It was very important to us. The end was tough, but we stayed together.”
His fellow scorer, Ekambi, said it was refreshing that, for a change, they had found their accuracy in front of goal.
“We’ve had this lack of being clinical in front of goal for a while,’’ he said.
“We have found the goal again and it feels good. The problem is behind us.
“We did some great things in training and we were able to reproduce them here.
“We played a beautiful match. We were strong defensively, we were able to hold on and get the result.”
Coach, Rudi Garcia, who later replaced Kadewere with Moussa Dembele in the 64th minute, said his men fully deserved their victory.
“We know it’s difficult to come and win here. We did it. It’s a deserved victory with three goals scored. Our attackers were efficient,’’ he said.
“Those who came on as substitues helped us a lot.
“This is a result that we all worked for together. In terms of our style, we looked like we usually do but we were more efficient. We want to follow this result up to go back to the top of the table.
“There are still things upon which we can improve, such as the goal conceded at the end of the first period. We were able to battle after the break and have plenty of chances to seal the result.”
Across the border in Belgium, Warriors skipper, Musona, scored his second goal of the season as he helped his club, KSV Eupen beat bottom club Royal Mouscron 2-0 yesterday.
After a goalless first half, the Smiling Assassin broke the deadlock, just after the break and Eupen scored again, for what was, in the end, a comfortable win for them.
It was the club’s second win of the season and Musona, who has been played in some interesting deeper midfield roles by coach Benat San Jose, appears to be enjoying his time at the club where he is on loan from Anderlecht.